The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







Repetition is the occurrence of an event which has occurred before.



Repetition is important in music, where sounds or sequences are often repeated. One often stated idea is that repetition should be in balance with the initial statements and variations in a piece. It may be called restatement, such as the restatement of a theme. While it plays a role in all music, in fact most musical sounds are periodic, it is especially prominent in minimal music and, its influence, popular music. Theodor Adorno criticized repetition and popular music as being psychotic and infantile. Richard Middleton (1990) argues that "while repetition is a feature of all music, of any sort, a high level of repetition may be a specific mark of 'the popular'" and that this allows an, "enabling" of "an inclusive rather than exclusive audience" (p.139). "There is no universal norm or convention" for the amount or type of repetition, "all music contains repetition - but in differing amounts and of an enormous variety of types." This is influenced by "the political economy of production; the 'psychic economy' of individuals; the musico-technological media of production and reproduction (oral, written, electric); and the weight of the syntactic conventions of music-historical traditions" (ibid, p.268).

Thus Middleton (also 1999) distinguishes between discursive and musematic repetition. A museme is a minimal unit of meaning, analgous to morpheme in linguistics, and musematic repetition is "at the level of the short figure, often used to generate an entire structural framework." Discursive repetition is "at the level of the phrase or section, which generally functions as part of a larger-scale 'argument'." He gives "paradigmatic case[s]": the riff and the phrase. Musematic repetition includes circularity, synchronic relations, and open-ness. Discursive repetition includes linearity, rational control, and self-sufficiency. Discursive repetition is most often nested (hierarchically) in larger repetitions and may be thought of as sectional , while musematic repetition may be thought of as additive. (p.146-8)

See also paradigmatic analysis and cycle (music).


  • Richard Middleton (1999). "Form". Key Terms in Popular Music and Culture, Horner, Bruce and Swiss, Thomas, eds. Malden, Massachusetts. ISBN 0631212639.
  • Middleton, Richard (1990/2002). Studying Popular Music. Philadelphia: Open University Press. ISBN 0335152759.


Repetition can also be important in literature, especially poetry, where words or certain phrases are repeated for a stronger emphasis by the author.

Weight training

In weight training, a repetition (or "rep") is the act of lifting and lowering a weight once, in a controlled manner. A "set" consists of a several repetitions performed one after another with no break between them. Novice weight trainers are advised to perform 8 to 12 repetitions per set and 1 to 3 sets per exercise, with short breaks between each set.


The number of repetitions in a period of time is frequency.

Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04